The New LIFE Secondary School is a privately-run 265-seat high school for students with emotional, behavioral and academic disabilities. The project entailed the conversion and adaptive re-use of a vacant 2½-story warehouse building in the Melrose section of the Bronx. Taking advantage of the existing rectangular floorplate and large industrial windows with expansive views to the west, the design created bright classrooms along the exterior walls with a simple and flexible circulation system tying all program spaces together. To serve the student population most effectively, individual staff offices and resource rooms are interspersed between classrooms and distributed throughout the building.
Exterior modifications were designed to maximize daylight and create an open, friendly environment. A new skylight brings daylight into the core circulation area at the 1st and 2nd Floors, which also features a double height “green wall” with plants, water, and seating. The main staircase has glazed openings facing the street as well as the central core area. The school entrance and canopy on Eagle Avenue are welcoming and appropriately scaled to the surrounding neighborhood, which is becoming increasingly residential.